April 15, 2013

Pensioner needs to make do with 4000+ euro a month

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:17 pm

A pensioner named Gijs Koekenbier (69) has become the butt of jokes after NRC Handelsblad published the story of his financial ‘woes’.

Mr Koekenbier has had to cut back from 4430 euro a month to 4260 euro (after taxes!), which started a litany of complaints. “We used to visit the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam five times a year, but now we have to limit this to twice a year. We have had to cancel the NS Voordeelurenkaart [Dutch rail discount card—ed.]. We’ve also decided to drink less wine. Two glasses a night instead of half a bottle is nice too.”

People who are not as well off as Mr Koekenbier reacted furiously. They saw his attitude as exemplary of the ills caused by neo-liberalism, the babyboomers (Retecool) and by the party of the elderly, 50PLUS (Volkskrant).

50PLUS is a party that tries to improve the position of the elderly, run by Henk Krol, former publisher of Gay Krant, and Jan Nagel. The Dutch elderly are relatively affluent, with an average household net worth of 245,000 euro. This is largely due to the fact that when the 50+ crowd bought their houses, they got the type of mortgage that one pays off, while young people do not repay their mortgage loans and are on the whole in the hole.

Meanwhile, there is such a thing as poor pensioners and they are being hounded by the government for benefit fraud. The number of pensioners that fraudulently claim singles’ benefits instead of couples’ benefits has almost doubled in the past five years, or so Sociale Verzekeringsbank claims. NRC quotes the Ouderenombudsman as saying, “People who see each other regularly do not know whether that counts as being a couple or not. We feel fines should not be given as long as the rules are unclear.” Fines for benefit fraud used to be 10% of the amount received in error, but have been upped this year to the full amount. In other words, one has to pay back the balance twice!

The minimum wage in the Netherlands is currently 1469 euro per month after taxes. A state pension for a couple is 1414 euro (707 euro per partner).

(Photo by Derek Gavey, some rights reserved)

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